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Voices of dissent being muzzled, fear prevails: Oppn parties to President Pranab Mukherjee

Major Opposition parties presented a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee listing their concerns and urged him to ensure that constitutional democracy and fundamental rights of citizens are protected.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2017 20:26 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Opposition,President Pranab Mukherjee,Manmohan Singh
Congress president Sonia Gandhi with leaders of other parties outside the President’s house in New Delhi on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)

A delegation of Opposition parties, led by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday to seek his intervention in getting the electronic voting machines (EVMs) replaced with ballot paper following allegations of tampering in the recent elections.

They put forth their concerns over recent incidents of violence, including attacks by cow vigilantes, and attempts to “muzzle voices of dissent”.

The delegation also apprised the President of the current political and law and order situation in the country, especially in the wake of the lynching of a man in Rajasthan.

The Opposition leaders of 13 political parties accused the BJP-led NDA government of “destroying” the secular fabric of the country and also “muzzling” the voices of dissent.

“We have drawn the attention of President to voices being muzzled. In a democracy, rule of law should prevail but mob lynching and harassment is seen in the country. Many incidents like Alwar, Dadri and Udhampur many incidents are being witnessed in the country. Key bills are being disguised as money bills,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after the meeting.

“We have requested the President for his urgent intervention to protect India’s constitutional democracy and safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens to ensure the rule of law in this country,” he told reporters.

Azad said the delegation drew the attention of the President to the recent political developments which have “seriously undermined the accepted norms of governance and institutional integrity”.

The issue of malfunctioning and alleged tampering of EVM machines were also raised with the President, that have reportedly raised questions on the sanctity of electoral process, particularly in recently-concluded elections.

He said in this regard the opposition parties have already met the Election Commission, which has promised to convene an all-party meeting on the issue.

“There has been an attack on cultural, academic and historical institutions, universities, especially Nalanda University and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library,” he said.

“The continuous violence and failure of governance in Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of grave national concern,” he said.

Azad also added that all central agencies -- the CBI, Income Tax and the Enforcement Directorate -- are being used to harass leaders of political parties, particularly chief ministers.

“There has never been such harassment of chief ministers and leaders of political parties,” he said.

Besides Manmohan and Sonia, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma were part of the delegation.

The memorandum was also signed by Tariq Anwar (NCP), Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), Dharmendra Yadav and Neeraj Shekhar (SP), D Raja (CPI), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Kalyan Banerjee (TMC), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), V Elangovan (DMK) and others.

With inputs from PTI

First Published: Apr 12, 2017 18:56 IST